LAW SCHOOL: WHAT REALLY MATTERS

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[highlight]- By SAMEEKSHA GAUR, Army Institute of Law, Mohali[/highlight]

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Unlike any other professional degree, law requires the right amount of extra-curricular activities to sail you through and for you to do the best with it, or so one thinks.

At the very outset, what I can assert with full confidence is that if your academics are down the gutter, everything else is  ‘moo’- it’s like a cow’s opinion, it just doesn’t matter (courtesy, an over doze of sitcoms, F.R.I.E.N.D.S in particular).

That being said, it IS important to have the right amount of extra-curricular credentials by your side too…

Moots, Debates, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), Model United Nations (MUNs), Client Counseling…there are a plethora of activities that one can participate in at a law school. What has to be considered and that too, with A LOT of pondering is what you have to give priority to.

Want to explore new places, meet new people…PARTY!? Go for moots, debates…I can assure you that you will have the time of your life at all the places that such competitions take you to. Want to land up a decent paying job after 5 years? Intern, study, hone your oration skills and gain the right amount of knowledge.

Some of you might be wondering, “then why does one moot or debate?” My answer to that is simple, one can take part in as many of the aforementioned extra-curriculars as one desires…just not at the cost of one’s academics. Let’s make it really simple and analyze the profiles of three law graduates.

JAKE: Jake was the quintessential nerd at his college…kept on studying 24*7 and hardly interned throughout his 5 years at law school. He had an amazing percentage though. Sadly for Jake, the knowledge was all bookish and he eventually ended up in a mediocre firm with a mediocre salary.

PAM: Pam loved law; he had a passion for it. He tried his hand at debating and mooting but didn’t like it much. He had a sound knowledge of all the subjects that he studied throughout his 5 years. He also interned a LOT. Had 10 internships to his credit and 3 PPOs (pre placement offers) by the end of his fifth year at his college. There was something that he did differently from his other batch-mates…

  1. Instead of slogging and slogging hard for his academics, he concentrated on maintaining the right percentage throughout his 5 years. He was successful at that. He also wrote research papers since he loved researching- it increased his knowledge base and also gave him credits incase he planned to do an LLM abroad from a good college.
  2. He started interning from the first year itself…

Since he did not have much to do in the summer in his first year, he decided to volunteer with an NGO and take it easy. This he did when the rest of his batch mates were busy interning with lawyers and law-firms (in their first year!).

  1. Till the summer of his third year at college, he tried to explore the entire horizon that is available to a person who wants to pursue law…every break he got, he interned. Be it law firms, NGOs, government organizations, lawyers…he tried his hand at everything. Due to this, by the end of his third year, he was sure what branch of law he wanted to get into.
  2. Now, in his last two years, he interned 8 times but in 4 law firms.  He focused on making a great impression in his first internship so that the firms could call him back for a second time.

AKKY: Akky was the extra-curricular king at his college…Moots, debates, ADR-you name it and he had done it. He was good at moots and debates and won most of the competitions that he went to. That being said, his academics were pathetic. Naturally, since most of his time at college was consumed in taking part in all the said activities. But, there was a catch, accruing to all of the above, Akky had really gained a LOT of legal knowledge and he had a lot of contacts. So, basically, he did not have much trouble in landing up a job after his stint at law school.

Now, let us see what these boys did right or what they did wrong.

JAKE: One doesn’t merely need the theoretical know-how. It’s a universally acknowledged fact and isn’t peculiar to law. Jake should have explored the practical aspects of law as well.

PAM: Since Pam wasn’t really interested in mooting and debating, he found an alternative-he interned. Just having a number of internships to your credit is not enough; doing the right type of internship at the right time is what actually matters. He also didn’t let his academics suffer. He ‘studied hard and partied light’ all throughout an academic year and then interned in every break that he could get.

AKKY: Now, what AKKY’s case clearly states is this: You cannot afford to be mediocre at your academics and extra-curriculars AND expect a good life after law school. Either be the best mooter/debater/ MUNer that there is-win competitions that you take part in. Have an excellent track record in these activities if you are ready to compromise with your studies. OR, take part in these activities, have fun BUT…MAINTAIN YOUR GRADES. Hone your oration skills and the likes because that’s what these activities essentially do. No, a moot court is NOT like a real court-room. That’s not what moots are for. They are there for honing your argumentative skills, convincing powers, logical reasoning and to basically make you a better orator.

[quote]I guess after the case studies, it’s clear what’s important at a law school and what’s not. There is an alternative to everything. For example, if you don’t want to moot but still want to be able to gain the experience at researching, get into the habit of writing research papers.[/quote]

[highlight]Then again, it’s not like the above stated are the only kinds of people that you find at a law school. There will be exceptions everywhere. There will be people who may not study but may still end up getting great jobs because of having the right amount of contacts at their disposal. Crux is, academics should always be a priority if you want to be sure of your future and gaining practical knowledge is a must-that’s what employers look for. You may or may not moot. You may or may not intern. It’s up to you at the end of the day but, not knowing the application of section 300, IPC is a blunder that you may not want to commit![/highlight]